Creative thinking is fast becoming one of the most valuable attributes that businesses look for in their workforce, according to Linkedin. The company’s 2021 Workplace Learning Report, which highlights data from more than 660 million professionals and 20 million jobs, recently revealed that creativity is the most in-demand soft skill for the second consecutive year.
While it’s clear that creativity can add huge value to businesses, the always-on nature of our working lives means that it is increasingly challenging to tap into our creative sides day-to-day. One recent study by London Research found that content creators only spend about 48% of their time actually creating content, with the rest being spent on administrative tasks associated with content creation. Meanwhile, researchers at the University of California found that the typical worker is interrupted roughly every three minutes, and it can take as long as 23 minutes to recover after every interruption.
In recent years, we’ve increasingly seen new technologies such as automation emerge as a way to tackle daily work distractions. Founded in 2013, digital asset management company Bynder has worked with brands including Spotify, Five Guys and Lacoste on scaling and automating elements of their content creation process. By removing time-consuming tasks from creatives’ plates, the company’s platform allows teams to both respond quickly and reduce overall costs associated with global campaigns, which need to be tweaked to address cultural nuances but maintain overall brand consistency.
Unfortunately, we don’t really spend all of our work time immersed in the creative process. We are quite a small team that works across the company on different levels
Marketing and creative teams in particular could benefit from using creative automation tools to overcome time-consuming, low-value tasks – whether it is tweaking banner ads, making small changes to campaign videos, or editing the copy on a Google ad. As a brand and visual designer at Monzo, Pamela Giani’s role involves working closely with product designers and marketers to create tailored visuals for the online bank’s mobile and web experiences, along with creative assets for marketing campaigns, performance and social media.
“Unfortunately, we don’t really spend all of our work time immersed in the creative process,” says Giani. “We are quite a small team that works across the company on different levels, so we jump from many meetings to workshops, from creative brainstorming to execution. We’re adapting to different contexts quite quickly depending on what area of the business we support, so there’s always a considerable amount of time that we spend making changes to the designs and discussing the output of our work, and it’s all topped up with a long list of deliverables.”
There’s nothing more time consuming than making sure that all the files for the launch of a product or a campaign are exported at the correct size
While automation isn’t something Monzo has put into practice yet, the in-house team are having ongoing discussions about the potential benefits. “I think automation can be great to allow us to spend more time on creative thinking and skip the manual and low skill-based tasks,” says Giani. “There’s nothing more time consuming than making sure that all the files for the launch of a product or a campaign are exported at the correct size, and it’s extremely important that, once we make changes to one file, all the rest of them need to be up to date. Because humans make mistakes, I think machines allow for a higher level of consistency and quality.”
Automation tools would also be beneficial when it comes to producing some of Monzo’s more data driven campaigns, Giani adds. “If it’s used for data driven content, it opens new possibilities in terms of creative outputs. Imagine you want to create 15,000 videos based on real-time data and publish them online on different platforms. That is just impossible to achieve without automation.”
As buy-now-pay-later service Klarna’s UK head of marketing, AJ Coyne oversees a huge amount of content creation on a daily basis – from in-app assets such as wishlists and shoppable events to national campaigns. “Our operating model at Klarna means that we are very agile, we work in hundreds of small teams, each focused on solving a particular problem,” he says.
Consumers are looking for inspiration, personalised recommendations and flexible payment options in the places they consume content
Klarna is already putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to creative automation, having recently acquired a company that improves the content creation services it can offer to retail partners across the app itself, its social channels and the wider internet. “For Klarna, the benefit is for the consumer. Providing new ways to innovate with content for them that allows us to better cater to their needs,” says Coyne.
“Consumers are looking for inspiration, personalised recommendations and flexible payment options in the places they consume content. And this technology allows us to create both engaging and curated experiences that are shoppable, so drive action and growth. The role for our teams is to ensure we’re connecting creative thinking to leverage new technologies with impact,” he adds.
While new technologies such as automation could revolutionise the way we work in the coming years, one question that remains unanswered is where to draw the line between the role of creative tools and creatives themselves. How can we be sure that machines won’t replace humans altogether? “I think that very much depends on the level of automation that you inject in each product, and there’s definitely multiple challenges that lie in the balance between automation and creativity,” says Giani.
Technologies in the end become a part of the process of creation, and it can end up with them dictating how we create, rather than serving our creativity and imagination
In Monzo’s case, Giani believes finding the right balance will be crucial in ensuring that the brand stays true to its roots, and the same principle applies for countless other businesses considering investing in automation tools. “We put a lot of effort into producing content that is really relevant for our customers and I think the risk with automation is, especially if it’s adopted on a high level, the communication can become flat and unexciting. We don’t want to fall into the trap of overproducing and getting lost in the veracity of the web, I think we want to be in control,” she says.
“I think the balance with automation technologies is really using them as a tool to help us be on top of our creative process, rather than submitting ourselves to the technology itself. Another risk in automation is that technologies in the end become a part of the process of creation, and it can end up with them dictating how we create, rather than serving our creativity and imagination. We have to ensure that there’s a level of personalisation in the process of creating and, at the heart of our mission, I think we need to navigate new technologies with this responsibility.”
Bynder is the creative content engine powering digital experiences for some of the world’s biggest brands like Spotify, PUMA, and Five Guys. Bynder’s digital asset management platform helps teams collaborate in the cloud, get content to market faster, and maximize the impact of marketing assets. To learn more, visit bynder.com